Arc Flash Compliance
By Steve Hudgik
Arc flash is a known serious hazard. What does it take to be in compliance with arc flash standards and codes?
What does OSHA require for Arc Flash Compliance?
OSHA does not have specific requirements directed toward arc flash safety. It falls under the the OSHA General Duty Clause. This clause requires employers to "furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees".
This does not mean you can be passive about safety. For example OSHA 29 CFR 1910.269(a)(2)(iii) requires: "The employer shall determine, through regular supervision and through inspections conducted on at least an annual basis, that each employee is complying with the safety-related work practices required by this section".
What this means is, that for arc flash compliance under OSHA you must be in compliance with NFPA 70E, known as the "Standard For Electrical Safety In The Workplace".
The scope of NFPA 70E is defined as:
"This standard addresses electrical safety requirements for employee workplaces that are necessary for the practical safeguarding of employees during activities such as the installation, operation, maintenance, and demolition of electric conductors, electric equipment, signaling and communications conductors and equipment, and raceways."
Real-world advice and insight into preventing arc flash accidents.
What does NFPA 70E require for arc flash compliance?
Although you must pay a fee if you'd like to have a copy of this code, NFPA does provide for it to be viewed and read online at no charge. Go to: http://www.nfpa.org/aboutthecodes/AboutTheCodes.asp?DocNum=70E
In short, what is required for arc flash compliance is:
- An assessment be conducted to identify and determine the level of arc flash hazards.
- You must provide training for those working on near arc flash hazards.
- You must develop safe work practices and procedures, that for example, minimize the the instances in which work is being done on energized equipment.
- All arc flash hazards must be properly labeled. Access to areas in which there is an arc flash danger should be limited, with signs identifying the area and clearly warning about the danger.
- You must provided safety equipment and person protective equipment (PPE).
- To be in arc flash compliance you must know what your employees and contractors are doing – supervisors or managers need to get out in the workplace.
Being in compliance with arc flash safety requirements has other benefits. It can reduce your insurance premiums. You may see your electrical system reliability enhanced as a result of proper protective device coordination. And overloaded equipment can be identified.
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